Te Ao haka is a brand new NCEA subject being piloted across 34 secondary schools, with plans to roll it out nationally by 2023.
Seven Sharp reporter Te Rauhiringa Krystal-Lee Brown went along to check out three of the 34 schools in action, where traditional principles of kapa haka are merged with contemporary theatre conventions to create haka theatre.
Students from Western Springs College's Ngā Puna O Waiōrea, Te Kura Māori o Te Kotuku and Hoani Waititi Marae were given the opportunity to work with experienced actors, writers and directors to create unique 30-minute kapa haka performances.
The matanga toi included the Deadland's Te Kohe Tuhaka and Sparticus' Antonio Te Maioha.
“If we can nurture them, that can be their ticket to wherever they want to go in the world,” Te Maioha said.
“The biggest thing for me is to give these kids an opportunity to see themselves in a world that they may be telling themselves, 'Oh, I could never do that," Tuhaka added.
Student Rhylee says the subject has given her “lots of opportunity to grow” as a performer, both in theatre and in kapa haka.
“This journey has taught me and my peers, me and my teina, a lot of resilience in terms of how to uphold yourself on and off the floor,” she said.
Each have their own unique stories to tell, weaving elements of their identity and Māoritanga of their kura into their performance.
The Autaia platform was led by Auckland Live's Kaiarataki Toi Māori Kura Te Ua who hopes it will become an annual showcase where haka theatre can be accessible to everyone.
“It’s just about growing their self-determination and their self-expression, be it Māori or not,” she said.